Dutch group looks for family of Wilmington soldier killed in action during WWII
Dutch volunteers are working to polish the memory of a Wilmington soldier who was killed in the last days of World War II.
Now, they're trying to contact members of his family.
Pfc. Henry Herschell Mosley of the 84th Infantry Division was crossing the Ruhr River in an assault boat near Linnich, Germany, on Feb. 23, 1945, when German machine guns opened fire. Mosley's boat sank, and his body was not found.
Without a grave, the 21-year-old's name was inscribed on the "Wall of the Missing" at the Netherlands American Cemetery near the Dutch town of Margraten.
Not many people in his hometown remember Henry H. Mosley today. In the Netherlands, though, a devoted cadre of Dutch civilians regularly visit the cemetery and place flowers by the tablets for the MIA soldiers.
"Those boys and girls gave their lives for Dutch freedom," said Bart van der Sterren, a member of Stichting (Foundation) MIA, a Dutch memorial group. "The least the members of the foundation can do is to mention their names out loud once in a while."
Van der Sterren, 49, has been trying to contact members of Mosley's family to let them know that his memorial is being cared for. His search led him to contact Jan Davidson, historian with the Cape Fear Museum in Wilmington. Davidson went to the Wilmington City Directory and to some online sources and began to put together pieces of Mosley's life.
Mosley was born June 13, 1923, in Red Springs, N.C. In 1942, he was listed as a laborer with the city of Wilmington's street department. When he registered for the draft, he listed his address as 1112 N. Fourth St., Wilmington, and his employer as Corbett Package Co. on Castle Hayne Road. Judging from service records, he was working as a driver.
Military records show Mosley was married, but no record of a marriage license can be found, Davidson said. An Edith Mosley, widow of Henry H., appears in the 1946 city directory, then disappears from the record.
His draft registration shows Mosley living with Mrs. Eva Mosley. Davidson deduced that she was his mother. Mosley's father apparently died in the early 1940s.
Mosley enlisted at Fort Bragg, N.C., on July 26, 1944. His military records show him as having received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart -- both possibly posthumous.
Eva Mosley lived in Wilmington until at least 1959, according to city directories. She died in 1969 and is buried in Wilmington's Oleander Memorial Gardens.
After that the trail grew faint. Davidson, however, consulted the genealogy website Ancestry.com and found a possible niece living in Columbia, S.C.
"I really didn't actually think that I would manage to find a relative," Davidson said, "so I'm totally thrilled that it worked out."
Thousands of Dutch citizens have adopted American war graves, tending them sometimes for decades. Filmmaker Brenda Hughes of Wrightsville Beach and her Wetbird Productions followed one such story in the documentary "Thank You, Eddie Hart," following the Dutch family who regularly decorated the grave of a GI from LaGrange, N.C. Eventually, they were united with Hart's surviving siblings.
"Thank You, Eddie Hart" has aired several times on UNC Public Television. Hart is buried at the same cemetery near Margraten where Mosley's memorial stands.
Members of Stichting MIA (from the American acronym for "Missing in Action") have been seeking clues and eyewitness stories, van der Sterren said. Their objective is to locate field graves of American GIs, so their remains could be re-interred with honor in a military cemetery.
Bart van der Sterren at the grave of an American GI at the Netherlands American Cemetery near the Dutch town of Margraten, where Wilmington soldier Henry H. Mosley is memorialized. Van der Sterren is a member of the Dutch group Stichting MIA, which works to memorialize soldiers killed in action.
If anyone has additional information on Henry Herschell Mosley or his surviving family, they are urged to email van der Sterren by way of www.stichting-mia.nl.